The expansion of Rwanda’s aviation industry is expected to deepen after the recent KLM entry prompted Brussels Airlines to reposition, as the tourism season enters its peak.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines operated its maiden flight to Kigali in Rwanda late last month. The entrance of KLM into the Rwandan market is expected to bring forth competition.
According to industry reports, KLM already had been sending passengers to Rwanda via Nairobi, Kenya through a code-share agreement with Kenya Airways.
Not only will that arrangement continue, but KLM’s relationship with Kenya Airways is expected to expand. KLM President and CEO Peter Hartman was quoted as saying that, “adding Kigali as a new destination strengthens KLM’s position in East Africa. This region is of key importance to the extensive Air France-KLM network.”
The implication is that Rwanda’s profile is bound to be raised several notches as an attractive tourist destination. In a bid to defend its turf, Brussels Airlines, that has been the dominant international airline operating out of Kigali is now repositioning its entire value offerings ahead of KLM’s new services offerings.
Rwanda is targeting a record $187 million from tourism receipts this year after receiving $175 million last year, an increment of 6.4 percent, according to Rwanda Development Board (RDB).This kind of prospect, raises the business expectations for the players in the aviation industry including new entrant KLM.
Brussels Airlines officials have now conceded that the entry of KLM will indeed impact on fares in terms of reductions.
“As you know, in general competition has an impact on the fares in an open, liberal market and the customers always benefit from such increased competition.
This is the case in Rwanda which now has a new airline operator and one will observe that fares have decreased already because of such competition”, Serge Dewachter, Brussels Airlines Rwanda Country Manager told Business Times .
“However, I must add that traditionally, Brussels Airlines has been offering promotional fares when the high season for tourism kicks off. Meaning that this has not changed and consequently we launched a promotional campaign just last Monday with fare levels that went down compared to last year of the same period. That said, I must also point out that we will monitor the new situation closely with the entry of a new players and react to any change if need be,”Serge added.
An indicator that Brussels Airlines was repositioning was the visit by its top boss to the airline’s Rwanda offices recently.